In recording his 31st career triple-double on Sunday, Rajon Rondo helped his Celtics to their third straight win this season over former teammate Paul Pierce and Eastern Conference contenders, Washington. They almost lost it at the end yet again, but Rondo and Co. held on.
Rondo didn’t shoot particularly well (5-of-17), but at least he shot the ball. He’s been loathe to attempt a jumper this season with that awkward right elbow splayed out, but he nailed a three when John Wall again went under a screen, and he used his pass-first mentality to score on a couple of layups in transition where the defender thought Rondo would dish it off:
That’s not to say the 40-foot bounce pass isn’t still in his arsenal:
And he can still break a defense down with some heady interior dribbling and passing, like he did here with the jump-pass to Cody Zeller after going over his screen twice:
Rondo’s former teammate and mentor, Pierce, acknowledged Rajon’s leadership role after the game, as relayed by NESN.com’s Ben Wanatabe:
He has a chance to show these guys what it takes to win, the habits you’ve got to have,” said Paul Pierce who returned to TD Garden on Sunday as a member of the Washington Wizards. “He’s grown up before our eyes. He’s become the leader here and it’s good for him to experience — the one true all-star, the veteran, the one the guys look up to for guidance and he’s accepted that role.
“It’s tough. It’s a demanding role, especially in this situation when you’re losing, but he’s up to the task. It’s frustrating, definitely, he definitely. He gets frustrated. Rondo’s been a part of a lot of winning teams but he’s headstrong that he’ll fight through it.”
And Rondo complimented Pierce’s ability to speak up on the court and hold his teammates accountable:
“He’s a great talker,” Rondo said. “When he does it he’s very positive on the court. He’s demanding. He’s going to yell at you, he might get on you, but it’s all for the betterment of yourself and the team.”
For now, though, the C’s are in the midst of a three-game winning streak and Rondo is doing it all once again for the men in green.
Whether he stays in Boston is still up in the air, since he’s on the last year of his deal. If the Celtics continue to rattle off wins like they did over the last week, we doubt Danny Ainge trades him at the February deadline, and instead works on a deal to re-sign him this summer. Then again, if Rondo continues to drop triple-doubles, his trade value increases, and Ainge could grab at a possible sweetheart deal if it’s on the table.
Will the Celtics keep Rondo past the Feburary trade deadline?
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